Move to Santa Cruz

Well, after five years living in Vermont, and something like thirteen years living in New England, Courtney and I have gone and moved to Santa Cruz, CA. There are a lot of reasons for this; the very hard winters and extremely rainy summers in Vermont were starting to wear on us, but mostly we just wanted to live in a young and vital place that has a larger population. Courtney had some experience with the area during her brief stint working at Land of Medicine Buddha, and I had always enjoyed The Monterey Bay area when my family and I would camp here as a kid, so Santa Cruz seemed the perfect place for us.

I applied for a UNIX Systems Engineer position at the University of California Santa Cruz, and was offered the job back in July. After some serious soul searching, I decided to accept, and we started the process of relocating a full 3,000 miles from home, which I can assure you is no simple task! I’ve been here just under two weeks, but Courtney is still tidying up our affairs in Vermont before she starts the long journey out here in our car. Yep… That’s car, not cars. The public transportation system is so good out here that we can finally be a single car family. For my part, I’ve managed to move clear across this country twice and not driven it a single time. This is fine with me, however, since I have very little interest in seeing middle America.

Casey and I managed to find Paula’s Breakfast Shack while he was out for WordCamp 08. Home of the $1.99 Basic Breakfast, this place is so good, that I simply can’t imagine going anywhere else for eggs and home fries! I’ve tried a number of taquerias, but the jury is still out on which one is best. Once I find it I’ll have to freeze some tacos and burritos and send them out to Matt, who has strongly indicated that he hates me for having such easy access to good Mexican Food.

Bare Metal Linux Restore

Several weeks ago we started seeing some pretty scary errors showing up on the main system disk for our Blackboard server. We had an extra server hanging around, so we decided to move all the data off the failing disk and onto our spare server. The only question was how to make the new server as close to a perfect copy of the old one as possible. Simply restoring all the filesystems failed for a variety of reasons, mostly related to GRUB and the kernel, so I had to find a way of excluding only the files and directories that were tied to the specific model of server.

To do this, I started by installing a minimal copy of RHEL 4, making sure to lay the filesystems out in exactly the same way as they were on the old server. I then went through several experiments, leaving just the bare minimum files and directories required for the hardware and booting, but formatting all other filesystems and restoring the data from our old server. In the end, the below process resulted in system that worked perfectly, and very closely mirrored the original server.
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